By Paul Heywood-Smith
The Editorial appearing in The Australian entitled “Labor’s Israel decision gets worse” on the 21st of October demands an answer. The author of the Editorial is not identified but I would invite that person to identify himself.
The decision of the Government to correct the inept decision of the Morrison government to foreshadow the relocation of the Australian embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is a decision which should be applauded. Not only should it be, but I believe it is by the majority of Australian voters. Polling by the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) prior to the last election confirms that a clear majority of Australians support the Palestinian people in the conflict. They know where the rights and wrongs lie.
The Editorial’s suggestion that arguments that the decision “brings Australia back into line with most of the rest of the world are specious” is itself a specious suggestion. The US happens to be only one of some 190 members of the United Nations. It is the only significant country to resolve to move its embassy to Jerusalem. No other significant country, such as the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Russia, China, India, etc. has done so. And does The Australian consider that a decision by Donald Trump is above criticism, or that the fact that the Biden administration has endorsed the Trump decision should be sufficient for the Australian government? So far as I am aware the Australian government has not as yet made itself subservient to the US government.
The Editorial alleges “hypocrisy” in its sub-heading. The Editorial is replete with hypocrisy. For a start, it points to a “deep and eternal connection between Israel and its eternal capital”. This is a mind-blowing assertion. For at least two thousand years before 1948 (founding of the State of Israel) there was not any country which included Jerusalem which had a government which might be described as an independent Jewish state. On the other hand, Arabic based governments were the norm for much of the nominated period. As for an ‘eternal connection’, the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem has been a continuous holy Islamic shrine since the 8th Century. No doubt there were some members of the Jewish religion who continuously resided in Jerusalem: so too were there members of the Islamic faith, and so too Christians for whom the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was an ‘eternal connection”.
Another totally hypocritical assertion in the Editorial is the assertion that the Government’s decision undermines “Australia’s efforts to support a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis”. The present Israeli government has precluded a ‘two-state solution’ by asserting that there will never be a Palestinian state. In these circumstances “Australia’s efforts to support a two-state solution “can only be advanced by challenging Israel on many issues, including the status of Jerusalem. Nor can Australia seek to be a “crucial security ally in the Middle East”. How could Australia be an ally of an apartheid state? In international law apartheid is a crime against humanity. Israel has been declared to be an apartheid state by the Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem, by the New York based Human rights Watch, and by Amnesty International. No-one has seriously challenged the findings of these entities.
The Editorial muses that Labor will next proceed to the recognition of “a non-existent Palestinian state”. One would only hope so. That is the resolution of recent ALP conventions. Labor rank and file expect it of the Government. Such recognition by Australia would bring Australia into line with the majority of UN member states.
And so I say to The Australian:
- the Government’s decision was not ‘ill-considered’;
- nor was it ‘muddled ‘or a ‘bungle’; and
- why would Arab resistance movements in the area not ‘warmly welcome’ the Government’s decision.
The Labor Party should be proud of “the strong stream of pro-Palestinian sentiment that is redolent within its ranks”.
Finally, I call upon The Australian to nominate someone to publicly debate these issues, either a single person or a team of two. APAN and AFOPA (Australian Friends of Palestine Association) will settle on their representative, but I shall nominate myself.
This piece was forwarded to The Australian on Saturday 22 October, with a challenge that it publish it. Readers will know or be advised as to whether it has.